Akeelah and the Bee

  • PG
  • Doug Atchison (2006)
  • US
  • 108 min
Akeelah and the Bee
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

Spelling is the magic key to community cohesion in this simplistic but sincere wish-fulfilment drama. Playing like a fictional take on the 2002 documentary Spellbound, it uses the story of a precocious African-American girl's gift for words as a focal point to explore the current US preoccupation with junior spelling contests. Keke Palmer is wonderful as the talented 11-year-old Akeelah, who gradually finds the self-belief to ignore her mocking south Los Angeles classmates and sceptical mother (Angela Bassett) and enter a televised national spelling bee. Crucial to Akeelah's inspirational journey is Laurence Fishburne as her reluctant coach, whose dignified performance helps bolster the film's commendable intellectual and emotional messages. Although the plot is predictable, with the outcome blatantly obvious, it's hard not to get drawn into events, particularly when the tense competition unfolds. Only the final sequences descend into naive fantasy, as even gang members stop their shady activities to root for their local spelling star.

Plot Summary

Drama starring Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer. Akeelah Anderson is a precocious 11-year-old with an amazing talent: she's the best speller in her Los Angeles school, and maybe beyond. She's reluctant to prove her talent in public, however. Coerced into the school competition, a taste of victory spurs her on to try her luck at a regional heat. But Akeelah's mother doesn't share her daughter's passion, and it promises to be a difficult journey.

Cast and crew


Dr Larabee
Laurence Fishburne
Tanya Anderson
Angela Bassett
Akeelah Anderson
Keke Palmer
Mr Welch
Curtis Armstrong
Mr Chiu
Ma Tzi
Lee Thompson Young
J R Villarreal
Sean Michael Afable
Sahara Garey
Erica Hubbard


Doug Atchison

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
Lions Gate
Available on DVD
Released 18 Aug 2006
Certificate PG
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment